San Francisco, 1900. The Gilded Age. A fantastic time to be alive for lots of people . . . but not thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy, stuck at Miss Barstow’s snobby school for girls. Lizzie’s secret passion is science, an unsuitable subject for finishing-school girls. Lizzie lives to go on house calls with her physician father. On those visits to his patients, she discovers a hidden dark side of the city—a side that’s full of secrets, rats, and rumors of the plague.
The newspapers, her powerful uncle, and her beloved papa all deny that the plague has reached San Francisco. So why is the heart of the city under quarantine? Why are angry mobs trying to burn Chinatown to the ground? Why is Noah, the Chinese cook’s son, suddenly making Lizzie question everything she has known to be true? Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie and Noah must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people they love.
- I liked Lizzie, a 13-year-old fascinated by science and medicine, at a time when girls were expected to grow up to become good wives. Lizzie was feisty and adventurous, and was willing to defy the rules if it meant doing what was right.
- At the beginning of the novel, Lizzie was shy and didn’t have many friends. I enjoyed seeing her open up and make friends throughout the novel.
- I also enjoyed reading about Lizzie’s family dynamics, such as her relationship with her dad, her aunt, and her brother Billy. I loved that these relationships evolved throughout the course of her novel.
- Interestingly enough, I hadn’t realized this was a historical fiction until waaaaay into the book! (Dunno how I missed it LOL.) I liked how this novel told a fascinating story without being too bogged down by historical facts.
- Even though the book wasn’t written by a Chinese author, I liked the Chinese-American characters, including Lizzie’s cook Jing and his son who were intelligent, humorous and multi-dimensional.
- There was kind of a love triangle in this book? (I know, right?? This is supposed to be a MG book which meant barely any romance at all!) It was very subtle and implicit but still got on my nerves.
- Since there was a mystery/thriller element to this book, I expected the pacing to be fast… but the pace dragged for the most part.
- I was also a bit underwhelmed by the ending. There was a lot of build-up about what the big secret of Chinatown was (and the book title is Chasing Secrets), but when the secret was revealed in the end… it was not too much of a surprise.
I enjoyed the historical aspect of the book and the Asian rep, but not so much the slow pacing of this book. This might be a good pick for historical fiction fans!